Nashville, Tenn. (TN Tribune)–The deaths of two grandparents she dearly loved set Asha Jaikarran on a path to becoming an oncologist, a doctor who treats cancer.

When she graduates from McGavock High School on May 21, Asha will take the next step in that journey.

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Asha was just 6 when her grandmother, who loved dolphins and shopping at Macy’s and bought Asha a purple nightgown and matching scrunchies, died of breast cancer in 2010. A little more than 10 years later, her grandfather – “the funniest man alive” – lost his battle with colon cancer in November 2020.

As she grieved over her grandparents, Asha realized she wanted to be an oncologist.

“My goal since I was 6 years old was to find the cure for cancer, and every decision and opportunity I have is leading up to that day,” she wrote in a recent essay about her experiences and plans.

So when it was time for Asha to choose her academy and pathway before her sophomore year at McGavock, she chose the Therapeutic Services Pathway in the Academy of Life Science and Law.

“I had been waiting since sixth grade to join that pathway; I knew the relationship the school had with Tristar and Vanderbilt would really benefit me,” she wrote. “I’ve known since I was 11 that I wanted to attend Vanderbilt University. I know that I want to major in psychology and get an M.D. so I can practice oncology.”
This spring the next piece of the puzzle snapped into place: Asha was accepted at Vanderbilt, where she’ll be a freshman this fall.

She sounds like someone who won’t waste a minute there.

“I never want any 6-year-old to witness their warrior of a grandmother fall down the stairs because she is too weak to stand,” Asha concluded her essay. “I never want anyone to not recognize their grandfather because the cancer slowly deteriorated their body and soul. I never want anyone to suffer the way my grandparents did. Every moment of my life is dedicated to saving those lives: the lives of the ill and their families.”